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India, EU discuss long pending free trade agreement

NEW DELHI, Feb 20: India and European Union (EU) today discussed the possibility of accelerating the negotiation process of the proposed free trade agreement, which has been pending since long.

The issue, among others, was discussed during a meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharman and Geoffrey Van Orden, Chairperson, Delegation of European Union.

Five members of the European parliament were also part of the delegation.

The Indian side pitched for speeding up the negotiations of the comprehensive trade pact in the meeting, sources said.

The proposed FTA, officially dubbed as Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) has been pending for long.

The delegation also called on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and is believed to have discussed the global economic situation in the context of the new American administration under US President Donald Trump.

Launched in June 2007, BTIA negotiations have seen many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, duty cuts in automobile as well as spirits and a liberal visa regime.

The talks have been stalled since May, 2013, when both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on the crucial issues.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.

On the other hand, India is asking for granting ‘data secure nation’ status to it by the EU. The country is among nations not considered data secure by the EU.

The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access. (PTI)

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